Our brain cells, called neurons, work together to produce every memory, thought, behavior and sensation. The human brain has 80 to 100 billion neurons--each of which transmits and receives signals to and from thousands of other neurons. To fully understand how the brain functions, scientists research how these neural circuits work. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: Parijat Sengupta, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
How does sleep affect individual memories? How do brain cells connect to form meaningful networks? How is a word like "chair" conceptualized in the mind? To support potentially transformative research in neural and cognitive systems, NSF has awarded 16 grants to multidisciplinary teams from across the United States. Find out more in this news release.
Credit: Aude Oliva, MIT
The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) of the Biological Sciences Directorate supports research aimed at improving understanding of organisms as integrated units of biological organization. The goal is to predict why organisms are structured the way they are, and function as they do.
The society you live in can shape the complexity of your brain. For vertebrate animals like humans, and even birds and fish, there is a lot of support for the idea that our complex brains developed along with complex societies. Sean O'Donnell, a professor at Drexel University, explains how his lab studied whether this same pattern holds true for social insects--specifically, wasps.
January 25, 2016
Social interactions and the brain
Multidisciplinary team investigates brain function during social interaction, down to each neuron
Many animals, from insects to humans, are social. Their brains have evolved to be sensitive to sensory cues that carry social information, such as: speech sounds, pheromones and visual cues. But very little is known about how animal brains process and integrate this information.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), neuroscientist Mala Murthy and a multidisciplinary team at Princeton University want to understand what happens in the brain when animals process information, communicate and socialize. The team is using courtship and mating behavior of fruit flies as an experimental system to reveal how sensory input is processed and integrated with information about a fly's internal state to produce social behavior.
Murthy says what the researchers are learning will contribute to a better understanding of interaction and communication in many animals, including humans.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1451197, Closing the Loop on Social Behaviors, From Mathematical Models to Neural Circuit Dynamics.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.